If you know your cannabis, you’ll know there are three primary strain types available on the commercial market. But how well do you really know your Sativas, your Indicas and your hybrids? Could you confidently pick out a Sativa strain among a bunch of Indicas? In this guide, we’ll be taking a closer look at the unique properties and characteristics of Sativa cannabis - a remarkable plant with limitless recreational and medical applications.
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The History of Cannabis Sativa
The formal name for cannabis Sativa is actually ‘Cannabis Sativa L’, in reference to the botanist credited with its discovery. Carolus Linnaeus came across cannabis Sativa for the first time in 1753, though it wasn’t until 1785 that the different types of cannabis were separated into two classifications. Hence, we’ve also one French biologist by the name of Jean Lamarck to thank for kickstarting the cannabis culture we know and love today.
Of course, there are still many that dispute the true origins of cannabis Sativa and the individuals behind its discovery. There’s evidence of cannabis cultivation occurring as far back as 2737 BC, demonstrating the popularity of pot worldwide for almost 5,000 years. It’s just that today, we know enough about the various strains and classifications of cannabis to know exactly what we’re consuming.
A Rare Commodity
Since the 1980s, the enormous influx of Indica genetics has seen a number of pure Sativa strains worldwide diminish significantly. To such an extent that pure Sativa cannabis strains are today considered rare and precious commodities. Breeders have been working tirelessly to engineer Sativa hybrids with faster flowering times and denser buds, but some overlook the importance of preserving pure Sativa. It’s not been added to the endangered species list just yet, but it’s been heading in this general direction for some time.
Hence, if you come across a batch of seeds or a cutting from a pure Sativa mother plant, guard it with your life! Hybridisation is producing the most potent and impressive strains the world has ever seen, but preserving pure Sativa genetics remains a priority.
How To Spot a Sativa Cannabis Plant
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the characteristics of cannabis Sativa, you can spot a Sativa plant from a mile away. Contrary to popular belief, the aesthetics of Sativa and Indica cannabis plants are wildly different. Tall plants, faster vertical growth, longer and thinner leaves, wider gaps between nodes and lighter-green leaf colouration - all defining characteristics of Sativa cannabis plants.
Compare Sativa and Indica specimens side by side and the differences are unmistakable. Indica cannabis plants appear short, bushy and darker in colour - Sativa plants grow tall, lanky and with paler green leaves. As Sativa plants grow considerably taller, they also typically require a significantly longer bloom cycle. Depending on the specific strain, flowering times can exceed 16 weeks before reaching full fruition.
Sativa cannabis can also be particularly difficult to grow indoors, given the requirement for plenty of headroom. Without careful trimming, it’s quite normal for Sativa cannabis plants to reach more than three metres in height. Pure Sativa strains typically produce somewhat loose and lightweight buds, though crossbreeding with Indica strains enables buds to be tightened and flowering times reduced. Though of course, at the expense of purity.
The Effects of Cannabis Sativa
Sativa cannabis is renowned for its uplifting cerebral effects, with little to no physiological ‘stone’ where its genetics are relatively pure. Far from sedating, Sativa cannabis is the quintessential energising stash that kicks the body and brain into overdrive. This makes cannabis Sativa ideal for daytime use - often enjoyed by enthusiasts as an alternative to an afternoon cup of coffee. Some also swear by the effects of Sativa for maximising creativity and inspiration, making it the perfect strain for getting things done and maintaining motivation.
The stronger the strain, the more immediate and high-impact the effects. In some instances, cannabis Sativa with an ultra-high THC content can almost immediately lead to mind-race. Just as often, a few heavy hits of cannabis Sativa can trigger the most incapacitating giggling fits imaginable. Considered by many to be the ultimate brain candy, cannabis Sativa works in the opposite way to cannabis Indica, firing-up the brain and electrifying the body.
Medical Benefits of Sativa Strains
In medical cannabis circles, cannabis Sativa has become a popular organic replacement for many traditional pharmaceuticals. Some of the most common conditions known to respond positively to cannabis Sativa include depression, migraines, ADHD and chronic pain. Cannabis Sativa is also a renowned appetite stimulant, making it a great choice for patients with poor appetite or other issues that may adversely affect their nutrition.
The consumption of cannabis Sativa leads to a near immediate sense of fulfilment, positivity and motivation. A thought-provoking and uplifting experience, cannabis Sativa is ideal for combating the stresses and strains of everyday life. Nevertheless, cannabis Sativa should be approached with caution later in the day, as over-consumption can make it difficult or even impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Throughout the day, however, Sativa cannabis is just the thing for staying motivated, energised and inspired to get things done.
Growing Cannabis Sativa
While it’s not impossible to grow cannabis Sativa indoors, outdoor cultivation is a better option. Efficient application of the ScrOG method can keep Sativa plants under control, but isn’t a technique to attempt as a novice. If you’re legally permitted to grow Sativa cannabis outdoors, you’ll find it much easier to handle. Once again, Sativa plants routinely reach heights in excess of three metres, with long and lanky branches spreading out in all directions. As the stems have a tendency to be somewhat skinny, you’ll need to provide support to prevent them from snapping.
Sativa seeds take longer than Indica seeds to germinate - often popping after a full week or so. After which, the growth rate of a typical sativa specimen can be no less than mind-blowing. Flowering times are also slightly extended, averaging around 12 weeks though in some instances continuing beyond 16 weeks. Yields vary significantly from one strain to the next, though tend to be heavier with Sativa hybrids than pure Sativa specimens. Healthy Sativa plants demonstrate impressive resistance to common pests and disease, though must be monitored closely when climatic conditions aren’t ideal.
Top-Selling Sativa Strains
Everyone has their favourite cannabis strains - experimentation being half the fun. Nevertheless, there are certain Sativa strains and hybrids that have become nothing short of legendary worldwide. Examples of which include Green Crack, Jack Herer, Ghost Train Haze, Super Lemon Haze and Maui Wowie - all well worth checking out.